The Former Netflix DVD Library Is a Lost Treasure

Jim Vorel, Paste:

And this, ultimately, is the tragedy of losing that Netflix DVD collection of old — there’s genuinely no alternative for replacing it within the streaming world, no matter how much you’re willing to spend. Certainly, there’s no other service out there mailing DVDs at anywhere near this scale, even after Netflix’s own has contracted significantly. Nor is there a local, brick and mortar video store in the vast majority of American cities at this point. It comes down to direct comparisons with what other streamers can offer — HBO Max, for instance, doesn’t have a huge selection of streaming movie titles, but it does have a comparatively high quality one. Amazon Prime Video offers the exact opposite experience — an insanely, incomprehensibly vast library that is large primarily because it’s filled with zero budget films that look like home movies uploaded directly by users. The Netflix DVD library struck what was perhaps the ideal balance here — truly vast and eclectic, but also with a baseline quality level of films that had to at least qualify on the front of “had a physical release at some point.”

Even though streaming media is a young industry, it is possible that its golden days are already behind it.

The curious thing is that these services are both balkanized — in that they have vast amounts of stuff licensed exclusively to one service — and conglomerated — there are only a handful of parent companies that own all of Hollywood’s major studios. So instead of the music streaming model, where most people just pay for one service and then listen to a massive catalogue of music ranging from mainstream hits to independent artists, the movie industry thinks we’re all going to pay for each of their siloed services that are mostly full of original programming that is the purest definition of “content”. That seems customer hostile, and quite unlikely.

Many of these studios also own record labels, so I hope this model does not expand into music or other forms of media. I cannot imagine paying separate subscriptions for different libraries of music.